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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Ice Scouting and Hotspringing

With some free time because of the holidays and a little cold weather, I thought it prudent to start ice hunting. I had my girlfriend's dirt bike in my truck so on my way back from Townsend, I took a little ride up in to the mountains to get a close look at one (mtn) in particular. One tiny ribbon of ice but plenty of wet streaks so Ill be keeping tabs once per month until she comes in. Saturday Megan, Manfred and I took a drive over the continental divide to scout another area I have had in mind for some time now. No ice but soooo freakin much potential that I will also be driving over there once per month to investigate. [Im being obscure on purpose because Im a selfish climber. I dont particularly like teasing my climbing readers but I try hard to find first ascents and I dont feel like I have to give them away. Once things have been climbed, then I release the beta. So they are not permanent secrets, just temporary. Dont hate.] We stopped at a rustic hotspring on the way back and surprisingly we were to be the only ones there! Sunday found Manfred and I up the E fork of Hyalite looking for ice and cleaning out some Alder bushes from Treasure Hunter. Treasure Hunter is definitely forming and this cold forecast is going to push it in to 'in' shape. Slight of Hand is getting close as well as Killer Pillar and The Big Sleep. Comet and Asteroid are in, not High Crimes and Misdemeanors though (if thats the route to the left of Comet Alley?). Didnt drive up to Grotto. Plenty of dumbass drivers in the ditch and I didnt dare go up there. Almost comical but nerve-racking at the same time; one of them could slide in to me. There is an EASY solution for even the two wheel drive cars heading up there; SLOW DOWN! I always bring all the necessary equipment to get myself un-stuck but I use it more to help other people than to help myself. I will always stop and help but dont be surprised if Im not thrilled about spending extra time in the cold getting unprepared people out of the ditch.

The Jefferson

I started a little fire because its fun.

Pitch 1. Approach like you're going to Slight of Hand but turn right at bridge instead of left. Cross creek and go uphill a short ways.
The Big Sleep on the left and Killer Pillar lower right.
Thats the most ice I have ever seen on that rock. Hopefully it grows to the ground! Looks a lot like the Moratorium.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Turkey Day Whitetail

One of the longer running traditions in my family has been the Thanksgiving morning deer hunt. I grew up in a house bordered by BLM land and now my parents have a house in Townsend so prime hunting right off the door step has always been a available. I would say that 50% of the time we are successful. Maybe more. We got our hands dirty this year. My dad/bird dog flushed this little buck right to me. I thought I was going to have to shoot him point blank off-the-hip! Luckily he was in full rut and had his nose to the ground so he walked right by and I got him at ~18yds! We needed a Whitetail for sausage because we turned my bull in to hamburger and assorted steaks. After we got my buck tagged, cleaned and loaded, we got the shotguns out and flushed a few pheasants. They proved to be a little more wiley than the whitetails. Had plenty to give thanks for this year.

Thats me. My dad took this pic from the deer.
Had to get a pic of him with the Big Belts and my trusty rifle.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

One Helluva Warm-up! Sphinx ice in November

With regards to the Sphinx, its become personal. Come late fall, ice climbing starts creeping over my brain like the ice does to the rocks. The Lowe Route aka the Lowe Direct is one of the longest alpine ice routes in the lower 48 and was originally climbed bottom to top on-sight by one of my idols, Alex Lowe and his wife Jen. Its climbs at WI3 or WI5 depending on the presence or absence of the WI5 pitch. Its about 7 pitches long and almost 2k' of gain, pretty much all of it in your crampons. The TH is about 2 hours from Bozeman, the hike to the saddle is 4-5 miles (I have seen both)/ a 2 hour hike, then about an hour to the base of the climb. Not a half-day outing. I think this was my 6th attempt at this route with my 4th partner. I met Matt at the Hideaway a little over a week ago (had never climbed with him obviously) and asked him if he wanted to give it a go with me and he jumped right on board. Most of my more regular partners know what kind of effort that climb requires so they're never too eager to hike all the way out there. People that dont exactly know what they are getting themselves in to usually make for great optimistic, enthusiastic partners and Matt was just that. I kinda needed someone that hadnt been out there before. We got a fairly late start which wasnt all bad; we didnt have to be the first people walking up that Grizzly-laden trail in the dark! We were roped up and climbing by noon, I think. I got to lead every pitch as Matt is somewhat new to ice climbing, atleast leading anyway. The first pitch turned out to be the hardest of the day. In my experience, the first pitch of the day is always the hardest. So here we are at the first pitch of the day as well as the first pitch of the season! The ice was good, but very thin and I had to girth hitch one screw and use all of my stubbies. Two low angle ice/snow shelf pitches brought us up to the 4th pitch and the last real ice pitch of the Lowe Direct. This 4th pitch was another WI3 but with plenty of ice. We solo'd the 5th pitch past the WI5 pitch so we could get on the last major ice lead of the day before it was dark. We were moving pretty slowly. Ill catch some flack for not climbing the hardest pitch of the route but we were dam near under headlamps already with a couple more pitches to go. Even though I didnt climb it, I know I can. Its super short and the WI5 part is less than 10' long, probably close to 6' (in the conditions we had = fat). I can imagine its a spicy nacho earlier in the season. I belayed Matt up the last real ice pitch in total darkness. After that, we simul-climbed under headlamps all the way up to the plateau, it was 7pm. The weather on the North face had been perfect all day but higher up it was very windy and snow was blowing around in blizzard-like fury. The sluff pouring down the upper part of the climb kept things exciting (hoods up chins down!). I somehow missed the flat part of the summit plateau and walked right up to the summit ridge where I noticed the summit cairn. "Well now I know where we are." We had planned on no summit, hasta la vista baby, but the low visibility fooled me. I had summited the mountain 2 or 3 times prior so I knew the way down. We got back to the car by 10 and gleefully chatted about the climb over a PBR. Thanks Matt!
We started just lookers left of the low trees and finished in the left most ice of the upper 3 major flows.
P1 right flow.
Looking down at Matt on one of the middle pitches (2 or 3).
P4 or the last real ice pitch of the Lowe Direct.
Looking up at the upper Lowe Route.
The WI5 pitch and the WI3 above it. Shortly after this pic was headlamp territory.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A weekend camping and climbing on Boulder River

Cady, Manfred, Winifred (hedgehog) and I spent the weekend climbing at Natural Bridge and Falls State Park and exploring the endless Boulder River. Sam met up with us for some climbing in the Foyer and the three of us climbed every south facing route there (6 routes). I had an injury to my right hand that rendered me useless for rope gunning and didnt think I was even going to get to climb but Sam put the rope up for us on each one and I was able to tough it out. Fun easy day of climbing. Afterwards we bounced up the road with the Gypsy Wagon all the way to Hells Canyon to camp. Empty campground. Sunday we unloaded Cadys motorcycle and rode tandem up to the Box Canyon Ranger station with intentions of going up to Independence, an old ghost town, but the road got too rough for two people on a little dirt bike. Found some amazing roadside boulders/bouldering potential though.

The Foyer is that slot below the chockstone boulder upper right.
These are big, bigger than they look.

For instance....

Betcha theres some ice up there.
That super moon or whatever its called was pretty sweet to see.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Revenue Village: Proud Face is all done! Roadside Ramp has one route.

I was able to get three more days in the village this season. I have been working on Proud Face for the latter half of the season and now with 9 routes, I can call her done. None have been climbed on lead yet so I will refrain from grades for now. Before the season even began, I set a goal to start and finish Manfred's Rock, start and finish Proud Face and finish a route on the Roadside Ramps; essentially develop everything encountered while walking in from the North entrance. It didnt look like I was going to make it but this Indian summer (can I still say that?) held out long enough for me. A lot of this post is purely record keeping for me, sorry if its dry and to the point.
Smoke on the water

An inversion kept the fog on the lake. Purdy neat
THE Proud Face. Proud Face Route starts in crack, traverses left in to middle of face to 6 bolts. Sam's Variation goes up the crack, stays in the crack then takes arete to top (TR). Proud Face Crack starts in either crack on the bottom then stays in obvious wide crack to top (not visible). 
This chunk is the right side of Proud Face Rock. 'Empty Rangers' starts in the lower left crack (right side crack variation to Proud Face Crack) then traverses left to right at the dike (3 bolts) then the arete and cracks to the anchor.
The right side start to PF Crack or the standard start to Empty Rangers. Upper PF Crack can be seen.
This slab is just left of Proud Face. There is a subtle slab right in front of the main chunk. 'Incessant' goes up it with one bolt (crack to the right is useless for pro) then bomber cracks through right side of roof and to the top. 'Wake up Call' starts behind leaning slab with wide gear to 3 bolts up to left side of roof and gear to the top. 'Fugitess Crack' is just around the corner of this slab facing left.
Two slabs pictured here. The right one has a route 'Its pronounced Eye-gore' with cracks to one bolt and gear up to anchors. The left slab with the large boulder on top starts with one of the best lieback cracks in the Village then you stem that gap you can see and there are 2 bolts to get you to the anchors 'Weed Stems'.
The Roadside Ramps as seen from the road. Too bad you cant walk straight to them!
'Mushrooms are Good for Sundays' 14 bolts to one small cam to anchors.